2019 Offseason: Jon Gruden’s New-Look Offense

As of this writing, we’re patiently waiting for Antonio Brown to announce where he’ll be playing next year. Or perhaps we’re on the eve of that announcement. Who knows anymore. I do know that it is weird to type that sentence out because normally, the player or players involved in these trades, do not have that sort of say. But this is Brown — Mr. Big Chest – that we’re talking about here.

Benjamin Allbright got the wheels turning for me, above. There are so many different directions this offseason can go in. The domino that is Brown, coupled with the variables that are Jon Gruden and now, his partner in crime Mike Mayock, will surely make for an “interesting” next few months. You can interpret that however you’d like. I wanted to break down the offensive side of the ball first because most of the fan’s attention has been focused on the opposite side. If you’re not giving the Raiders three defenders in the first-round then you’re wrong. I don’t think that’s fair.

Gruden, given his background, may opt to shore up the offense before addressing the defense. Put up 60 points a week or die trying. Below are dozens of names across each position group that are of note, for one reason or another. Let’s put the puzzle together.


Derek Carr is the Raiders starting quarterback. For now. That’s what Gruden and Mayock told us a few times during their stay in Indianapolis. While I tend to believe them, for whatever the reason, it wouldn’t be the first time a coach has lied and certainly not the first time Gruden has lied during his return to the East Bay. I’d be okay rolling with Carr for at least 2019. Add some pieces, hope another year together, coach and play-caller, allows both to reach new levels. We know it’s not that simple, however, and there are some options in the draft that I think Gruden will have a hard time ignoring. That’s the rumor now, and I’m sure they only get louder as we get closer to the draft.

So, what are the options? There are three scenarios that are worth talking about. Scenario one: Gruden sticks with Carr. Scenario two: Gruden puts some sort of package together and moves up the board and selects Kyler Murray at 1 overall. Scenario three: Gruden and Mayock move Carr (the Dolphins make sense), stay at 4 overall, and select Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.

What I’d do: Build around Carr for 2019 (and beyond).

What Gruden might do: Move up the board for Murray at 1 overall.

What I think happens: Carr gets traded, Raiders select Haskins at 4 overall.

Running Back

The high-end option obviously involves opening the wallet and paying up for Le’Veon Bell. The same Bell that has his first album about ready to drop. The same Bell that wants $50 million in guaranteed cash through the first two seasons. Also in free agency, a personal favorite target of mine: Chiefs running back Spencer Ware. Annually overshadowed in a potent Kansas City offense, Ware deserves a bump in pay and a shot at true RB1 duties. In the draft, the class as a whole underwhelms. We were truly spoiled in 2017 and 2018 with some special groups. Gruden could opt to select Alabama’s Josh Jacobs as early as Day 1. Jacob’s strong running style and effortless ability as a pass-catcher is sure to intrigue. Other options include Alex Barnes and Devine Ozigbo, two bigger backs who may compliment change-of-pace runner Jalen Richard.

What I’d do: Pay Ware.

What Gruden might do: Give Bell way too much cash.

What I think happens: Marshawn Lynch returns for the final season in Oakland (for real this time).

Wide Receiver

We talked about the ongoing Brown-Steelers saga. I think it’s almost all over, and we’ll soon know where the future Hall of Famer is headed. Gruden getting Brown for pick 107 (4th round) would be a home run. 66 overall (3rd round) would be almost as great. 35 overall (2nd round) is pushing it for me, but I have a feeling this is the eventual “middle ground” for the two sides. Letting any of the first-round selections go is a bad look, especially in the long-game.

Still on the trade-side, if there is one name I’d push all my proverbial chips in for, it would be Odell Beckham Jr. 2019 and 2020 first-round selections might get the job done. Beckham has the age/talent combination that makes flipping multiple early-round picks worthwhile. Free agent Tyrell Williams might break the bank. Golden Tate will be on the higher end, too. John “Smokey” Brown is probably the biggest bang-for-your-buck player, and someone I’m very interested in. From that same tier, it’s worth mentioning Jamison Crowder, Adam Humphries, and perhaps even Randall Cobb.

When/if Oakland comes away with Brown, or any of these other attractive options in free agency, I’d still advocate selecting an early-round wide receiver, if the board fell in such a way. Day 1 selections should include N’Keal Harry, D.K. Metcalf, Hakeem Butler, and maybe even Parris Campbell. This class is incredibly deep and talented; you can find some other names of note here.

What I’d do: Package up picks for Beckham (and regardless, target the wide receiver position early in the draft if possible).

What Gruden might do: Brown, of course.

What I think happens: Raiders give up pick 35 for Brown; Gruden tacks on another lower-tier free agent wideout and possibly selects one in the mid-late rounds, as well.

Tight End

Gruden and Mayock would be wise to let Jared Cook walk. The unrestricted free agent is coming off his best season as a pro, and there will be offers for the soon-to-be 32-year old. Instead, I’d turn my attention to the 29-year old, oft-injured Tyler Eifert. As Eifert himself pointed out, there’s a difference between being injury prone and simply unlucky, dealing with freak injuries. Eifert, when healthy, had a top-3 ceiling, evidence by his 2015 campaign. Injuries have derailed things, and even at his current age, he’s a difference-maker when he’s available and on the field.

Even better than letting Cook walk or rolling the dice on Eifert, 2019’s draft class is stacked. There is no excuse for not considering one early. College teammates Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson figure to be Day 1 options. Irv Smith Jr. and Jace Sternberger will be off the board shortly thereafter. Players like Foster Moreau and Dawson Knox should hear their names called in the mid-rounds.

What I’d do: One-year, “show me you can stay healthy”-deal for Eifert. Draft Moreau in the mid-late rounds.

What Gruden might do: First-round tight end, one of the Iowa players.

What I think happens: Gruden wants Cook back, but at the right price. I think he finds big money elsewhere, and Gruden kicks the tires on some free agent nobody is excited about because he, “just likes the way he plays the game, man.”

Offensive Line

Until Tom Cable is no longer apart of this coaching staff, there really isn’t much to talk about or get excited for. Donald Penn is a year older and coming back from injury (leg). Kelechi Osemele may have said his goodbye’s on Twitter already. Rodney Hudson is the best player on the entire roster. Gabe Jackson‘s game has been up-and-down since getting paid. The dynamic duo of Gruden and Cable invested in two, early tackles last year. Kolton Miller is an awesome athlete at the position, but was selected a full round early. The Raiders would do well to replace Brandon Parker on the right side sooner than later. The name that immediately comes to mind is Kansas State’s Dalton Risner. Risner would slot-in at right tackle and never look back.

What I’d do: Risner as early as 27 overall; 35th pick is a home run selection, if he’s there.

What Gruden might do: Trust Cable – again.

What I think happens: Gruden and Mayock add a name, maybe two, in the mid-late rounds of the draft in hopes of Cable being able to push and “develop” them as players.

Who would you draft? Who would you trade for? Who would you pay? Give me your best depth chart for the Raiders’ offense in 2019 involving some of your favorite free agents and/or draft picks.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


4 thoughts on “2019 Offseason: Jon Gruden’s New-Look Offense

    1. Amen to that. Our line took a huge step back after being elite under Tice and others. K.O. might be best shape of his life now. Maybe we give him another year. Unless they can trade Penn, they might be better to see if he can go back to LT and move Miller to RT for just another year at least if it looks like Penn can hold up there.

  1. The “What Gruden might do” section scares me. Like you, I’d prefer Beckham over AB. I also think there are no upgrades over Carr available. Hopefully, Mayock who has said it would be really hard to improve on Carr, can convince Gruden no to be stupid. Like you, I get the feeling big KO is gone and it saddens me. Who/what is he gonna spend that cap space on? OBJ?

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